Studio One - New Faces Final, 1974

Television, 1974 (Full Length)

The new performers section of the NZBC’s TV talent quest concludes after 12 weeks of competition — with an incongruous line-up of finalists including two performing family acts, a soft rock group, a pub band, two cabaret singers and glam rockers Space Waltz competing for a $750 prize. It’s a reminder of the light entertainment industry that dominated TV music shows in the 1970s, but the real entertainment here is watching the judges (Phil Warren, Howard Morrison, Paddy O’Donnell and Nick Karavias) as they bicker, squabble and interrupt each other.

Dixie Chicken - Episode Five

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This TVNZ light entertainment series takes its name from a Little Feat song but the music on offer is predominantly country. The set is barn-like but “yee ha” trappings never overshadow the performances (although big hats are in plentiful supply). Actor and musician Andy Anderson is a genial host (getting confessional at one point about his days on the “lunatic sauce”) and there are two numbers from Beaver. Bluesman Sonny Day channels Willie Nelson; the other soloists are Gray Bartlett, Brendan Beleski and Australian singer Annette Moorcroft.

12 Bar Rhythm 'n Shoes - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 1980 (Full Length Episode)

From a lost era of light entertainment comes this episode of an early 80s song and dance series whose ensemble included Suzanne Lee, Richard Eriwata, Vicky Haughton and a pre-Shortland Street Maggie Harper. The cast pay tribute to the Harlem songs of Fats Waller and George Gershwin, while special guest Kim Hegan provides a sitar performance. The final segment takes songs including 'I'm a Woman', 'Bare Necessities' and 'Putting on the Ritz', and somewhat improbably blends them into an all new "mini-musical" featuring Tarzan, Jane and a Hollywood producer. 

Studio One - Episode Two 1974

Television, 1974 (Full Length Episode)

This NZBC series from the first great era of TV talent shows (and the heyday of light entertainment on the box) featured three new artists and three new songs vying for the judges' favours each week. Performers include Steve Allen (fresh from the success of his Commonwealth Games song 'Join Together') and actor and singer Annie Whittle; and there's a rare glimpse of singer-songwriter John Hanlon. Auckland band Space Waltz steals the show in the New Faces section, debuting their glam rock anthem 'Out on the Street' to an unsuspecting nation (and judges).

Suzanne Prentice in Concert

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

Country music singer Suzanne Prentice is given the all-star treatment with this concert special. A major production from an apparently lost era of light entertainment, it was recorded at the Christchurch Town Hall by a crew who had honed their skills on That’s Country. Prentice is backed by the Roger Fox Band, vocalists The Yandall Sisters and Tom Sharplin, and a string section from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Elvis Presley hits and an Anne Murray medley feature in a set list which culminates in an epic version of ‘How Great Thou Art’.

L&P Top Town - 1986 Final

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of colourful physical challenges. The 1986 final takes place at Lower Hutt’s Fraser Park, where teams from Alexandra, Timaru, Whangarei (including future All Black Ian Jones) and Waihi compete for civic bragging rights. Hosted by Bill McCarthy and Paddy O’Donnell, with officials Melissa (Miss Top Town) and champion Olympic kayaker Ian Ferguson. A Taniwha, cross-dressing cheer squads, a Para Pool, and slippery slope, all make for much light entertainment malarkey.

Rob and Guests

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

This New Zealand television special was made in 1985 (during Rob Guest’s Vegas showman days). It pre-dates Guest’s distinguished career in musical theatre in Australia and NZ, but the late singer’s musical talent and versatility is still on display. It’s a little cheesy (what entertainment special made out of Avalon Studios in the 80s wasn’t?), but Guest shines as the classy all-round entertainer he was. Singers Yolande Gibson and Jan Lampen are the main guest stars. The NZ Maori Chorale and The Lynette Perry Dancers also feature.

The Popco Special

Television, 1974 (Full Length Episode)

This 1974 end of year special for music show Popco sees acts performing cover songs in locations around Christchurch, plus inside the studio. Presenting and singing are Hayden Wood, Rob Guest (before musicals fame) and Steve Gilpin (before Mi-Sex). The performers include Space Waltz (in their glam rock glory), Annie Whittle (on the banks of the Avon), the Maggie Burke dancers in Cathedral Square, Rockinghorse (featuring 'Nature' composer Wayne Mason), Mark Williams (sparkling in green lurex), Bunny Walters, Drut (complete with a flaming guitar) and Beaver (in the finale).

The Club Show - 12 May 1979

Television, 1979 (Full Length Episode)

Sports broadcasters turned entertainers Glyn Tucker and Ernie Leonard invite viewers to 'Walk Right In' in this ill-fated variety show. There are performances from singers including Bridgette Allen and Glyn Tucker himself; and belly dancing from the Elektra Dancers. It’s FA Cup Night, so Glyn interviews the manager of English football team Norwich City (with dimly lit footage of them playing a local selection) and Ernie has a rather odd chat with aviator Fred Ladd (who insists on answering in rhyming couplets). Equally curious is ‘The Silver Shot’ ...

Radio Times - Series One, Episode Two

Television, 1980 (Full Length Episode)

The original launchpad for Billy T’s rise to TV superstar, Radio Times travels back in time to find a fresh angle on the musical variety show. Inspired by 30s and 40s era radio shows, the series features a swinging dancehall band, fake singing stars, German villains, and coconut shell sound effects. Creator Tom Parkinson’s masterstroke: casting Billy T James as oh-so-British compere Dexter Fitzgibbons. In this episode the cast go South American, forgotten bombshell Alita Gotti channels Marlene Dietrich, and The Yandall Sisters cover Fats Waller classic 'Handful of Keys'.